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Obituary: Adrian Otten, Colten Group co-founder

ADRIAN Otten, the well known co-founder of the Colten Group of development and care companies, has died at the age of 80.

The enterprise he helped launch is known locally for the care homes it runs and construction projects including what is now the New Forest Heritage Centre in Lyndhurst.

Adrian was born in Hull and went on to achieve a BSc in civil engineering from Leeds University before joining engineering firm John Mowlem.

Adrian Cotten, co founder of Colten Group
Adrian Cotten, co founder of Colten Group

After moving to the New Forest, he went to work for Fawley oil refinery.

It was when he left there in 1970 to join a local building firm in Lymington that he met future business partner John Colwell.

The pair became friends and went on to to set up a small development company, Colten – named using the first three letters from John’s surname and the rest from Adrian’s.

Nearly 50 years on it has grown to include Colten Developments and Colten Care, which has its head office is in Ringwood and runs a number of local care homes.

Paying tribute to Adrian, John said: “Adrian thoroughly enjoyed his career and I have been truly fortunate to have been his business partner over what has turned out to be a fascinating half century.

"His family can be extremely proud of everything he has achieved.”

Adrian’s family said he was "much loved" and will be greatly missed by his 10 grandchildren and extended family.

In the early days of their first company, Adrian acted as a site labourer among his other duties of land acquisition, finance and sales.

He was often to be seen in a smart shirt and tie unloading thousands of bricks by hand before going off to a business meeting.

In the early 1980s Colten acquired a site in Lymington on which they planned to build 24 flats. There was an existing care home on it and, after building the flats behind, Adrian and John decided they would take over the running of it.

Monmouth House became the company’s first nursing home. To date, Colten companies have built over 1,700 homes in the south coast, two health care centres and the New Forest Heritage Centre.

They have also continued to build care homes, at present totalling 21, some of which offer specialised dementia care. The Colten companies currently employ around 2,000 people.

In 2001 Adrian was extremely proud when his son Rick joined the family business.

John was equally so when his son George also became part of Colten’s management – the two men wanting the business to remain family-run after they retired.

Adrian stepped down as co-chair in 2019, with the role being taken over by Rick, so he could devote more time to the charities he supported during his life including his local church.

He also enjoyed sailing, and playing squash and tennis. He owned, sailed and raced keelboats for many years before crossing over to motorboats.

Adrian also enjoyed regular passages on these around the south coast and an annual cruise to Brittany with wife Ro and close friends.

Adrian was married twice, firstly to Cam (nee Hulton). Together they share son Rick and daughter Philippa.

After their divorce, Adrian married Ro and they were together for 37 years. They have a daughter Anni. Adrian also has a step-son Piers and step-daughter Leonie.

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